While I’m Still Alive

Playing the game
With the chips on my shoulder
Checking in the mirror
As my coffee cup gets colder

Stagger and swagger
Combing my hair
If tomorrow’s not there
Then at least today’s all mine

While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive

Strutting my stuff
I’m bragging the damage
From coupling with headlines
I was suckled on salvage

The fighting’s exciting
The age is dramatic
I’m crackling with static
Just jiving to survive

While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive

Take a stroll down the side roads
I know you want to
A shock in the dark
Can be good for your heart, oh yeah

While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive

Scuffling along
On the crest of a wave
Laughing and grafting
Or jerking and working

Striking a match
Where life is a gas
I need the flash
To make it all worthwhile

While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive
While I’m still alive

Lyrics © John Foxx.

Thoughts on the text © Martin Smith and translated from birdsong.
Link to the post by all means, but please don’t reproduce the content without permission.


In this song Foxx returns to the Rue Morgue Avenue, strutting his stuff with the Stones and the Wide Boys. Jumpin’ Jack meets Flash Harry down one of the unlit alleyways off Main Street. Dealin’ and stealin’ (or jerking and working?). Duckin’ and divin’, yet barely surviving. The candle is burning brightly, from both ends. The fuse is short and sparking already.

Life is too short to mess around with sentimental attachments, with romance and conversation. He’s the one in the spotlight, the one everyone has their eye on. The man that all the girls want to bed, and the man that all the boys want to be. He moves through the streets and bars with a swaggering arrogance, aloof and brimming with self-importance. The man of the moment, a special offer must-have get-it-while-you-can. Yet vain and superficial, acutely aware that underneath it all is an uncomfortable void and an awareness that as long as he can trade on his looks, the future is just around the corner and the present is very short.

This brings and urgency to the lyrics and their delivery – short lines with direct imagery, uncomplicated by too much poetic creativity and external references. No baggage. Travel light, and move on. 

No gratitude. Bad attitude. The likes of him will always come from trash. He bears the scars of a childhood spent surviving a crossfire hurricane, hand-to-mouth and hand-me-downs – all the ingredients of an explosive cocktail. A suspect device, primed to explode. Just light the match. It’s a gas, gas, gas…

But without the violence, the petty crime and the idolatry there is nothing.

And how we run from that, in our million different ways


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